Latest auction buys and flea market finds

We’re nearing the end of our auction buying spree in the UK; next month we will be in France setting up the house (although no doubt on the look out for quirky furniture at one of the local brocantes). The other more practical reason is that the garage is close to capacity! Still, there have been a few great buys recently…

Take these cast iron tables (and chair) which have been on the hit list for months. We found one lonely table at our weekly auction (£3) and another table with one chair at the less frequent village auction (£25). So now I need to find a job lot of chairs without tables… (that’s half the fun).

Other finds include a box of tools for re-upholstery (see below), a glass table with unusual brass bamboo legs from a local charity that reconditions furniture for sale to the public, as well as a pair of old prints in wooden frames. Unfortunately, I missed out on a box of vintage sewing patterns and ‘how to sew’ books that would have looked great in the Craft Room at Le Manoir. Never mind – there’s always next week! SCH

IMG_4205  IMG_2325  IMG_4204

Auction pieces for cleaning and restoration

The first picture below shows a piano stool – a small demonstration piece of furniture for one of Le Manoir’s restoration and reupholstering courses. Course goers will be given the opportunity to work on a piece with their tutor – to remove all of the old tacks, webbing and hessian and use a magic cleaning formula to clean and restore the wood before applying wax to protect and nourish it. That’s before they start the fun work of re-upholstery!

The second picture – showing a balloon-back chair – will get a similar treatment.

The third picture shows a round card table. The legs are in excellent condition and I really like the shape of the piece but the table top needs restoring. When it’s finished it will go by the window in The Study at Le Manoir Saint Gervais along with two high-back chairs in crushed green/grey velvet. SCH

IMG_3664 IMG_2532 IMG_3705

This week’s auction find: brass fender

The dining room at Le Manoir has a large stone fireplace which is lovely but needs something to finish it off at floor level. At this week’s auction I found the perfect fender in brass that I hope will fit the space nicely. It cost £10, plus commission. If it doesn’t fit it can go in the barn! SCH

IMG_3657  IMG_3660

An amazing find: Singer sewing machine

I found a vintage Singer sewing machine in this week’s auction which is in lovely condition and even has the original Singer service label on the handle. It is a manual machine so will only really be practical to use when doing small projects or when you don’t really want to use electricity (e.g. sewing over pins when gathering sleeves, etc.) but I think it will look great in the craft workshop on a shelf. I’ve since discovered that my Mum has two additional machines which are gathering dust so they may also find their way to The Little Grange. SCH


Auction and flea market buys

A quick dash into town to do a bit of Christmas shopping between bids was not a smart move today! I got back just as the auctioneer was closing on three fantastic square wicker bread baskets… so frustrating!

But I did mange to get a painted table that will look good once re-painted in a lighter colour – it was a crazy £3 (£2 is the starting price); there were no other bidders. I also managed to get a piano stool without a seat for a future renovation project at The Little Grange that came with two chairs – the whole lot was a cool £10 before commission.

IMG_3665  IMG_3664

I remember too that a few weeks ago I went to an indoor flea market and picked up three very handsome prints in gold frames for £5. SCH

Mirrors galore

At this week’s auction I added to my gilded mirror collection by spotting a thin, metal-framed oval mirror which cost me £16 before commission. It is similar to others I have found on my bargain hunts and could make a lovely bedroom addition.

I now have eight mirrors if I include the two I bought some years ago and one my grandmother gave to me. Maybe I should dedicate the entrance hall wall to my collection? Make a feature of them? Do leave a comment if you have seen this successfully done anywhere. In the meantime I will take a look at my favourite app – ‘Houzz’ – which is full of interior photos, design ideas and advice.

What else did I buy at the auction this week? Oh yes, an incredibly practical fold-out  table that can be used inside or outside for parties or crafts. It has white legs and a sturdy top which will blend into a room once it has a table cloth on it. Otherwise it can be used in the craft room / workshop as a work station. When it is folded, it has a carry handle and will fit neatly away in the barn, cellar or attic. I paid £30 for the table – one of my pricier items!

The last thing I bought was a little side table for £8. Someone had painted it cream and stuck a piece of modern wallpaper under the glass top. It wasn’t initially to my taste but I figured it would make a useful, neutral piece of furniture simply painted cream. Take a look below and decide for yourself! SCH

IMG_2808  IMG_2804  IMG_2805

This week’s auction highlights

Definitely a week that ticked all the boxes!

The normally crammed auction hall was quieter than normal which meant the demand for furniture and sundries wasn’t that high which in turn meant some items were making silly money! At the same time there was a catering auction in an adjacent barn which I thought might be interesting in terms of equipment for the kitchen at The Little Grange: it’s usual to find stainless steel work stations, fridges, freezers, cookers, professional knives, industrial mixers, bulk crockery, glass ware and serving dishes.

Auction successes included:

– A ballon-back chair for renovation (with webbing and hessian only). The perfect re-upholstery project once I’ve finished the little stool.

– A painted wall mirror.

– A selection of wine glasses and baking dishes as well as a range of board and word games including Cleudo, Jenga, Brainbenders, draughts, playing cards, etc.

– A Kilner enamel jam pan with handle.

I paid just over £14 each for the chair and box of sundries; £12 for the mirror and £18 for the jam pan. SCH

IMG_2532  IMG_2530  IMG_2542 IMG_2538

Board games

Not a successful day today at the auction (I bought absolutely nothing), however, I did manage to add to my collection of board games.

The Little Grange has a large built in bookshelf on the landing of the first floor and my idea is to fill it with books and board games for guests to enjoy. Today was just fantastic because after finding an original London Monopoly game last week, I found the Paris version with all of its contents! Perfect for French guests (instructions are in French) or visitors wanting an entirely authentic experience.

I have found that charity shops are amazing places to buy used board games – you never know what you might find but you can be guaranteed that there will be a dedicated shelf providing a choice. I have paid between 50p and £2.50 for the games I have found so far and will only buy them in mint condition with full contents:

– Backgammon

– Traditional playing cards (four packs)

– The Really Nasty Horseracing Game

– Monopoly (London, UK edition)

– Monopoly (Paris, France edition)


Board games for guests

Other board games I am looking for include Chess, Draughts, Cluedo, Scrabble, Dominoes, Yahtzee. Have I missed any?! SCH

Time to take stock

Time is ticking away. It’s almost six months since I left the Middle East and panic is finally setting in!

The contract on the house in France is due to be signed at the end of November with completion following shortly afterwards. However, until the house is officially mine it isn’t really possible to start the real business of seeking the relevant permissions for the B&B or developing marketing materials. I have researched long and hard and know what needs to be done but can’t actually put any of the theory into practice until the keys are firmly in my hands.

As the days draw in and we approach the end of October, I continue to sew, bake, garden, renovate and bargain hunt – important skills that need perfecting in advance of next year’s grand opening.

I have on my ‘to do’ list a few personal sewing projects that I put on hold over the summer because of the good weather; piped cushions for Mum’s outside Adirondack chair; a blue cushion with assorted numbers for my maths-mad nephew; and renovation of an old wooden stool that sat in Mum’s garage for thirty years until it was nominated ‘guinea pig’ for my recent upholstery course.

But right now I am sitting at another auction buying more items for The Little Grange. This particular auction is in a village hall, it is not very well known and only occurs once a month so everything is super cheap and items rarely achieve double figures!

So far I have bought a large cloth folding screen (£22), vintage ‘Covent Garden’ wooden fruit tray (£10), an ornate gold mirror (£10), and a box of assorted tools including chisels that will be useful for upholstery projects (£20). The buyer’s premium is 18% so my total bill will be £73.16. SCH

IMG_2351 IMG_2319 IMG_2352 IMG_2317

Fresh eggs for breakfast

After a couple of weeks away from the auction it was great to get back there today.

Despite a cold chill in the air there were still a few items in the outside section. Gone are the summer parasols and tables and chairs… household bricks, lawn mowers, wheelbarrows and chicken wire are more the seasonal order of the day.

Now speaking of chicken wire, I had my eye on a group of five galvanised chicken feeders and, despite a lot of interest, I managed to get them! A helpful friend explained how the large hanging feeder worked and declared it a simple yet effective feat of engineering to keep away the rats; he also fixed the water dispenser together and talked about the 120 odd chickens and pigs he used to keep. A local farmer came over for a chat with his dog Alfie to find it was his lot we were discussing and that it had made £30. He then mentioned he had about 30 pig feeders scattered around his fields that were too heavy to lift… I suspect they will make their way to auction in time.

I bought the chicken feeders because I am keen to keep chickens at The Little Grange; a new enterprise has started up in St. Gervais which means chicks and feed are now readily available. I plan to provide guests with fresh eggs for breakfast. This time next year…!  SCH


Galvanised steel chicken feeders